Right about now you may be asking yourself: what the heck is Castle Metal, anyway?

Well, fear not, because you’re not the first heavy metal adventurer to beg the answer to that mystical query, but suffice to say that Castle Metal refers to heavy music bearing lyrics about ancient days, both historical (i.e. the Middle Ages, or thereabouts) and legendary (e.g. packed with dragons, wizards, kings and queens).

Since the earliest days of Black Sabbath, heavy metal has provided fans with an escape from their dreary life’s routines; but not until the launch of Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow did the style we celebrate today really come into focus start taking shape, slowly gaining other champions as the ‘70s drew to a close.

Then, with the arrival of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, fantasy themes started to dominate many bands' repertoires, including those of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Angel Witch and many more. Former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio, too, continued to wield his Castle Metal sword, first with Sabbath and then his own band (it should go without saying that you should already own all of those early Dio LPs), even as he added real world subjects into the mix.

Yet, for Rainbow’s battalions of 1980s disciples (and beyond), many of whom found parallel entertainment in the massively popular role playing game of Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy realms were all they knew, or cared to sing about, and it’s these groups that wound up dominating our gallery of the 10 Castle Metal Albums You Need to Hear.

So drink of your mead, don your suit of armor, mount your steed, raise your weapon high, and prepare to embark on a noble and potentially deadly quest ... for the glory of Castle Metal!

Bonus: this one goes to 11!